For foreigners

 

The Galeria Labirynt invites you to meetings for foreigners.
Every first Wednesday of the month, at 5 p.m.

This is an informal group of foreigners. We come from different places. Some of us live in Lublin shortly, others many many years. We meet once a month in the modern art gallery – Galeria Labirynt, in the city center. We talk about Lublin’s cultural institutions – what they do and what they could do for new residents (not always speaking Polish). We advise them. We want them to be more open to intercultural activities.

We also talk about the challenges of immigrants in Poland.

Meetings are open to everyone. We speak Polish and English (we also try in Ukrainian). Come!

Find us on FB. Join!
Contact to the coordinator of the group: Anna Dąbrowska, ad@hf.org.pl

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Invisible residents. Programme for including migrants into the community of the city

Invisible residents is a pilot programme for including migrants living in Lublin to live in the city through the means of culture.

Aims of the programme:
The programme is implemented in cooperation of the Homo Faber Association and the Galeria Labirynt.
We set ourselves two goals: on the one hand, we want to exist on individual maps of Lublin, which are carried by migrants. On the other hand, we want to be an entity that contributes to creating urban integration policy. In practice, this is the development of the inclusion model – standards that can serve as a hint for other cultural institutions that open up to new groups of residents.

For whom?
Migrants in Poland as well as in Lublin are still a small percentage of residents. Some claim that the number is so small that this group does not require any special support. Such perception, however, indicates that proportionally small, but actually quite large group of people remain outside the main flow of cultural, social, and political life.

With who?
Museums, community and culture centres, as well as other cultural spaces, are public, and therefore designed for a wide audience – for everyone. Where if not here, we can meet with others regardless of their origin, gender, age, level of ability, psychosexual orientation, language, skin colour, wealth… Such places seem to be the last bastions of equality where everyone may feel invited.

Diagnosis:
Integration, which nowadays in Poland means to a large extent learning Polish, organising vocational courses and legal assistance, is usually designed by third sector organisations. The seemingly neutral space of NGOs headquarters in practice turned out not to be inclusive.
Guiding the city or telling about it is not enough for foreigners to return to introduced places. Their character also has a disadvantage – elitism and exclusivity, the hermetic nature of the message and the forced expectation of respecting strict rules of behaviour.
And it does not have to be like that!
We want to get to know if it is possible to see a foreigner-resident of Lublin as a co-participant and co-creator of city’s cultural events.

Why us?
Galeria Labirynt:
We write about ourselves this way:
“Galeria Labirynt is a cultural institution of the city of Lublin, a place to discover art and experience the adventure deriving from it. Referring to the figure of the maze, we read its construction ‘backwards’ – not as a closed building, from which it is difficult to get out, but as a space that – due to its tortuosity – increases our vigilance and sharpens the senses. At the same time, we remain faithful to the act of ‘wandering’ inscribed in the nature of the maze. For us, the maze is both a game of finding the way, and the responsibility of the guide in the unknown space. The maze is a metaphor of contemporary art, obstinacy in overcoming obstacles and curiosity about what is beyond the eyesight”.

Without a doubt, the new invisible inhabitants of the city are beyond the eyesight. The crucial moment for us was the first Lublin Congress of Culture. Then we realized that Lublin is a subject of eternal changes and so are we – the gallery is not an island it is a part of the specific social environment where it functions. This idea pushes us to action.

As a result of the LCC actions including people with disabilities as art recipients and creators have been initiated. Our aim was to become a kind of laboratory testing tools and creating good practices based on principles of equality. In the same way, we want to initiate actions aimed at migrants living in Lublin. Events in Europe such as increasing migration to Poland from Ukraine since 2014 as well as increased arrival of refugees from the Middle East and Africa in 2015 were among others initiating factors for our actions. The scale of social tensions caused by increased migration and political attempts to exploit them made us realize that we should join the discussion.
We also find it difficult to agree with the recurring idea of a nation-state. Thinking in terms of one state – one nation is for us an anachronism, strengthened by a false belief about the monocultural structure of Polish society after 1945. As a result, in Poland people cannot and do not try to educate the society around the idea of openness and equality.

And one final thing – if we display art from the world, we want our recipients to be people from the world living in Poland.

Homo Faber Association:
We have been involved in integrating foreigners coming to Lublin since 2009. Our activities concentrated under the banner of ‘Welcome to Lublin’ were focused not only on immediate help. Through constant contact with new migrant residents, we tried to diagnose the accessibility of Lublin and propose systemic solutions on this basis – solutions that would be implemented to practices of offices and institutions. Moreover, we want to change the record of behaviours by extending it with additional categories of needs. Our greatest success was the opening of a support point at the Residents’ Affair Office – a place that was created due to cooperation between our organisation and the Lublin City Office. The point located in the very heart of the office is not only important because of its daily work – redefining the ‘inhabitants’, their identity as well as needs arising from such identity, makes the city responsible for their farther development.

The new residents, after approving their residency, face new challenges, not only official ones such as learning the language, getting to know the city, finding places, learning to move around, fulfilling their passions… And therefore, are not eager to get involved. There are many things that withhold them from doing so, among others: strangeness, fear, lack of linguistic knowledge, unfamiliarity of customs, people, stereotypes, as well as codes and mechanisms imported from the country of origin… As a result, they become invisible, moving around on the margin… Nobody sees the absentee. The vicious circle of exclusion is closing.

We are aware of this process. We know what a great effort must be done for the society to become multinational.

As a third sector organisation, we see our role as the initiators of socially important activities. We place emphasis on intersectoral cooperation, not on replacing public institutions and taking over tasks that are in their scope. However, we know that sometimes the first spark is necessary to make the change, and we push kindle it.